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Liepāja, Latvia

Karosta North Pier

The mile-long pier stretches from a ruined fortress out into the Baltic. 

One of the largest piers in all of Europe extends more than a mile out into the Baltic Sea. You can walk its considerable length all the way to the end, where there’s a surreal view of the surrounding harbor as the mainland shrinks from sight.

The North Pier is part of Karosta, a ruined fortress in Liepaja leftover from Tsarist and Soviet Russia. It’s a huge system of countless bunkers, cannons, and other defenses, that once housed some 20,000 people. The giant breakwater pier was constructed to protect the area from storm waves, fortified with concrete tripods.

The military town was created in 1890 by Tsar Alexander III to defend against the neighboring German Empire. But in an instance of extremely unfortunate timing, the fort was destroyed after a friendly treaty was signed between Russia and Germany right before World War I pitted the countries against each other yet again.

Today, Karosta is a collection of highly interesting remnants of the Soviet era. The remains of the fort have been eroded and worn down even more by the sea, resulting in an eerie landscape of many empty, dark bunkers and underground passages you can enter and explore. 

Several years ago, it was still possible to drive to the end of the pier, but today you can only explore on foot. For the first few hundreds of feet you can see many fishermen trying their luck. The last stretch becomes harder to traverse, as the pier becomes more and more eroded. But once you have made it to the end you will be rewarded with incredible views of the ruins of Karosta.